KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - Apo Kahumbo @ Mubin Halil is an intelligence gatherer for Abu Sayyaf, whose main duty is to identify possible targets for the gunmen to kidnap.
Describing him as an urban operative, Mindanao State University lecturer Octavio A. Dinampo said Kahumbo, who is in his mid-30s, was a native of Patikul in Jolo island.
"I know of him and I've met him," he said, describing Kahumbo as being "skinny, 5ft 7in tall and has spiky hair".
He said Kahumbo's presence in Tawi Tawi indicated that he (Kahumbo) was likely on his way to Sabah.
"As an urban operative, he would be familiar with places like Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Semporna," he said, adding that Kahumbo would blend in with the Suluk or Tausug and Yakan communities in these districts.
"These operatives use their knowledge to identify possible kidnap victims and watch their movements as well as the fast boats to be used in the abductions," he said.
Dinampo was himself kidnapped along with famous Filipino news anchor Ces Drilon and others on Jolo island on June 8, 2008.
They were released nine days later after ransoms were paid.
Describing Kahumbo's arrest as important, Dinampo said any information from him would enable Philippine security officials to know the inner workings of the Abu Sayyaf group.